We are surrounded by an expanding universe of inspiration and insights about Agility these days, yet enterprise agility can remain as elusive as it has ever been. It can remain an unbroken code, often because of 5 misconceptions.
1. Agile is just for Software/IT Companies and Project Management
This is a common misconception, not least of all because people think that Agile started with software companies and the Agile Manifesto (2001) as a project management approach for Agile Software Development. For sure that’s when it was popularized and started going mainstream, but it started well before that in the 1980s with hardware companies for software companies. It’s that software companies were going big with Agile in the 90s, 2000s, and 2010s while hardware companies were going big with “Lean”. Now hardware companies are realizing that “Lean” is not enough and they also need to go big with Agile. In fact, all companies of all types in all industries are embracing Agile. Including at OTA. The accelerating world of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) demands it. Navigating Uncertainty: Hope is Not a Strategy.
2. Agility is Simple, It’s just about being Flexible
This is another very common myth. Agility is an and-proposition of being flexible and inflexible, unstructured and structured, engineered, and artful all at the same time. Agility is not one or the other, it is one and the other. One and not the other results in the disorganized chaos of being too flexible and unstructured, shooting from the hip and chasing shiny things, or being too structured and inflexible and unable to keep up with the warp speed of the world. Disorganized chaos either way around. Agility is about finding the middle of a design proposition of one and the other, which is the flow of organized chaos. Life is fast-moving and chaotic, but it is well organized and flows.
3. Startups and Small-to-Medium Sized Businesses are Naturally Agile
Actually no, that is a mental trap. Startups and small-to-medium-sized businesses are not naturally agile, they are naturally frenetic, the hair on fire, and seat of the pants! In the flow of disorganized chaos, which is not agile. Many are realizing that and are making their way to the agile middle. The transformation journey has its challenges of course, but those that stay the course and go the distance can reap the rewards. At OTA we have been continuing the journey of The New School of Agile.
4. Larger Companies are Naturally Not Agile
Indeed, large corporates are often the definition of bureaucracy, overly structured and inflexible, easily finding themselves on the wrong side of disruptive change driven by VUCA. But many are now realizing that and are making their way to the agile middle. The transformation journey has its challenges of course, but those that stay the course and go the distance can reap the rewards.
5. Agile is just a Fad and New Spin on Old Stuff
Actually, as explained above, agile is not new. It has been around since the 1980s, so it’s hard to call something a fad when it's been around that long. What is new is that all businesses in all industries are waking up to the realization that agile is not just for Software/IT Companies, it is not just for project management of software but also hardware and services, it is not just for startups it also for large corporations and companies of all size. But it is old stuff, like DNA or gravity or the theory of evolution, it’s a back-to-basics, the first-principles foundation of understanding the underlying organizing concept of things. Agility is essential to surviving and thriving in the modern world. It is part of our relentless commitment at OTA.